Tag Archives: lung cancer

… Lung cancer free!?

If an exclamation point and a question mark in the headline seem confusing to you, join the club, you are not alone.

A heads up here: I have written about my experience with lung cancer in a number of posts, all of which I gathered into one Page – My experience with lung cancer if you want to catch up.

I just had my first post-op visit with the surgeon who removed the tumor and part of my left lung on 11 January of this year. He said that there are currently no signs of cancer in my lung or system. That’s the good news – right now I am cancer free.

The picture is an x ray of my lung following the surgery.

After I met with my surgeon, I had a meeting with my oncologist. He gave me the not so good news – that the tumor removed was six centimeters which qualifies as ‘large.’ Because of that, there is a good chance that it left cancerous micro-organisms in my system that can trip me up in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. These cancerous organisms can be free to travel anywhere in my body to start another cancer attack.

So, while I may be cancer free at the moment, I need to guard against future attacks by the same organism. He recommended chemotherapy and immunotherapy in either order.

I confess to a great deal of ignorance about chemo. I have heard horror stories about side effects as well as simply after effects. I said that at this point I did not want to undergo chemotherapy.

Right now I am in the immunotherapy camp. The treatments and side effects seem less onerous. Also they actually use the body’s own immune system to do a better job finding cancer cells so it can attack and kill them. Chemotherapy kills fast-growing cells – both cancerous and non-cancerous.

This is day one of my new ‘after cancer’ life.

Anyone who has any suggestions or stories about folks in my situation and what they decided is welcome to share with me. I truly feel like a babe in the woods here.

Tony

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Recovering from lung cancer surgery …

I am writing this in late January 2023. My experience with lung cancer began in early November 2022. I have posted several times on it and rather than rehash those posts, I have collected them onto a Page entitled – My experience with lung cancer so you can go back to any part that may interest you.

The experience began in November and I had a ‘period of darkness’ that lasted eight weeks during which I knew that I had lung cancer, but had no idea how bad it might be. On December 20 I met my ‘cancer team’ and got a ton of information about cancer in general, my cancer, in particular, and my options going forward. They scheduled surgery for January 11. So, for more than two months, I lived with the idea that I was carrying cancer and now I might be getting free of it with the surgery.

Cut to today – late January. I have had the surgery and the upper lobe of my left lung was removed along with a larger than two inch sized tumor. I am now in RECOVERY. Having lived a relatively healthy life with very few serious encounters with doctors or hospitals, I really had no idea what to expect after major surgery. I thought, naively, that once I had the surgery I was done…. Not so.

Now, I have a much clearer idea. I have an incision in my left side through which the tumor and lobe were removed. The ribs needed to be separated for this to occur. So, when I was released from the hospital, 36 hours after the operation, I was given a prescription for painkillers and told to be sure to use them. As it turns out, the operation has left me with a really ugly scar on the left side of my chest (I’m doing you the favor of not showing a photo). Because of the surgical activity, my chest feels like a big guy wearing a Super Bowl ring punched my ribs several times. So, while I have a full range of motion with my arms and legs, my torso activity is highly restricted.

After 11 days, I am still taking the pain pills religiously. It hurts to turn my body in either direction.

The good news in all this, besides the fact that I think I am cancer-free, is that I am able to walk my dog three times a day. Walking was one of the recommendations upon my release. I don’t have a lot of energy, so the walks really make up the bulk of my exercise for the entire day. Also, I don’t have much of an appetite. I understand that is par for the course. I just have to wait this thing out one day at a time.

Besides walking, I was given an Incentive Spirometer which I use regularly throughout the day to build up my lungs.

So, nearly two weeks into RECOVERY, I have been enlightened as to the nitty gritty of recovering from major surgery.

Fingers crossed.

Tony

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My successful lung cancer surgery

Regular readers know that I learned that I had contracted lung cancer in the first week of November. After undergoing a number of tests, biopsies and scans, I got to meet my ‘cancer team’ on December 20. At that meeting I learned that the tumor in my lung was of a sufficient size that surgery was the best avenue of removal.

My daughter shot this picture of me after I was admitted to the hospital,

Just to back up a step, I want to recall my shock at learning that I was carrying a deadly growth in my left lung. Writing this blog about living a healthy life and pretty much doing everything in my power to accomplish exactly that, I didn’t expect anything of the sort. I don’t smoke. Since my diagnosis, I have learned that 15% to 20% of lung cancer victims are not smokers. So, my ignorance of that fact was costly. Also, lung cancer is very much a disease of the aged. Only about 10% of lung cancer cases occur in people younger than 50 years old. I am 82, another costly oversight.

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Latest update on my lung cancer situation …

First, I have to apologize to you for the long lag time in updates. One of my initial complaints when I first learned that I had lung cancer was that I kept having procedures, but never seemed to get any fresh information on my condition. Now, I see that I have not updated you all since December 22. Sorry. You can refresh yourself here: What you can learn from my lung cancer on my last post December 22.

The last thing I mentioned in that post was that my cancer team had noticed that the tumor was possibly spreading to a neighboring lymph node. So, they needed to do a further procedure – a bronchosopy – on me to confirm or deny that. If you want further details on ‘that procedure, ‘bronchoscopy” I suggest you Google it.

I then had to wait four more days to learn the results and if I qualified for lung cancer surgery.

I have now learned that there was no cancer spread in my lung and I do qualify for surgery.

On Wednesday, January 11, I will have surgery on my lung. The procedure is called VATS – Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery.

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, “VATS lobectomy for lung cancer is associated with less pain, fewer in-hospital complications and a shorter hospital stay…. Superior functional recovery continues in the post operative period with improved physical function, lower re-admission rates and no difference in disease-free and overall survival up to one-year.”

So, hopefully, I will not have a prolonged hospital stay. My surgeon said that barring complications, I may be able to go home the day of the surgery. Fingers crossed.

Now you know everything I know.

Tony

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New bacterial therapy approach to treat lung cancer

Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in the United States and around the world. Many of the currently available therapies have been ineffective, leaving patients with very few options. A promising new strategy to treat cancer has been bacterial therapy, but while this treatment modality has quickly progressed from laboratory experiments to clinical trials in the last five years, the most effective treatment for certain types of cancers may be in combination with other drugs. 

Fluorescence microscopy image of lung cancer cells stained with antibodies against proteins involved in cellular growth.

Columbia Engineering researchers report that they have developed a preclinical evaluation pipeline for characterization of bacterial therapies in lung cancer models. Their new study, published December 13, 2022, by Scientific Reports, combines bacterial therapies with other modalities of treatment to improve treatment efficacy without any additional toxicity. This new approach was able to rapidly characterize bacterial therapies and successfully integrate them with current targeted therapies for lung cancer.

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What you can learn from my lung cancer

I have spent the last dozen years writing about living a long healthy, happy life with your brain functioning well the entire time. Not a day goes by when I don’t read about some aspect of living a healthy life. I have taken courses in anatomy, exercise, sleep, nutrition to name only a few since starting this blog.

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And yet, despite all my focus on health, if you had asked me about my chances of getting lung cancer, I would have said – very slim. I would have been wrong.

Here are some basic statistics about the disease. The average age for a lung cancer diagnosis is 70. Only about 10% of lung cancer cases occur in people younger than 50 years old. So, age is a risk factor that I had been unaware of – at 82 years old.

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Update on my cancer situation …

I last wrote about my cancer situation on November 18 in Booking my biopsy That was the last you heard about my experience with lung cancer. Sorry if I have kept you in the dark, but the fact is that I am also in the dark. I had the biopsy on November 28, but that seemed to only confirm that I, indeed, have cancer. They were able to give me no further details on my condition. Instead, I now have an appointment with an oncologist on December 20.

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The one positive occurrence seems to be that I am booked for two scans, brain and body, to determine the extent of the cancer. So, it seems that they will finally be able to ascertain the extent of my lung cancer. My scans are booked for Monday, December 12.

Now you know everything I do about my cancerous condition. Sadly, not very much and not very positive.

I asked the surgeon who did the biopsy if the fact that I have been living an active, healthy life with a lot of physical exercise worked for me in this situation. She said that my healthy condition would make it possible for them to attack the cancer more aggressively.

That is the extent of what I know as of right now – more than a month after first learning that I was likely carrying a cancerous mass in my left lung.

As they used to say on the radio when I was a kid … stay tuned.

Tony

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Booking my biospy …

Last week I wrote about the unpleasant news that after a chest X Ray and a CT Scan, I likely have some form of lung cancer. If you want details, you can read that post here.

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It has now been a week of dark shadowy uncertainty. When we got my CT Scan results, my doctor told me that they would call me to book a biopsy of my tumor. I waited for the call. The weekend came … and went. No call the following week. I finally sent a message on MyChart to my doctor that I hadn’t heard anything and was I supposed to have done something to get the biopsy scheduled. I received a message back with the phone number for the Radiational Intervention Department. Progress!

I phoned immediately and, of course, got a machine to answer. I recited my name and medical data along with my phone number with the message that I was calling to schedule a biopsy and they had my CT Scan. The machine assured me that my call was important and that someone would get back to me. The machine lied.

The next day, I phoned the department again and caught the same recorded message. I repeated my information. There was no call back.

At this point I was approaching seven days since my CT Scan with no ‘closure’ as far as finding out that nature of my likely cancerous affliction. I phoned my doctor and left a message that I had tried twice calling Radiational Intervention with no response.

Two hours later, Radiational Intervention called me. The nearest date for a biopsy is November 28. I booked it. They explained that I needed to get a COVID test with 72 hours of my procedure. So I booked that, too. I will be there at 1:00 p.m. for the procedure. They said that it would take about an hour to get into it and then I needed to stay there under observation for an additional two hours.

So, I may know on Tuesday, November 29, the condition of the likely cancerous mass on my left lung. Stay tuned ….

Tony

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Skin cancer may predict future cancers – MNT

As I wrote last week in My unpleasant health news , I very likely have some form of lung cancer. I am currently waiting to hear from the hospital to schedule my biopsy to get further information on my condition. As I am a committed non-smoker, you can imagine my surprise at this news. On further reflection, however, I have had skin cancer three times (see the Page on which I discussed that here.)

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Skin cancer is by far the most common cancer; there are a number of types, the most common being basal cell carcinoma. There are millions of diagnoses each year in the United States.

Our skin is regularly bombarded by ultra violet light, which damages DNA and can eventually lead to cancer.

In our cells, there is a range of proteins whose job it is to repair this type of damage.

Catching skin cancer at an early stage is important and, compared with other cancers, relatively easy.

Many internal cancers, however, do not produce particularly obvious symptoms until they are at an advanced stage. Because of this, finding ways to predict who might be most at risk is vital.

According to a new study — which now appears in the journal JCI Insight — basal cell carcinoma may help doctors predict who has an increased risk of developing other types of cancer.

Skin cancer as a predictor

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine in California recently investigated how the number of basal cell carcinoma occurrences might impact an individual’s future cancer risk.

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Study suggests why most smokers don’t get lung cancer

Cigarette smoking is overwhelmingly the main cause of lung cancer, yet only a minority of smokers develop the disease. A study led by scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and published online today in Nature Genetics suggests that some smokers may have robust mechanisms that protect them from lung cancer by limiting mutations. The findings could help identify those smokers who face an increased risk for the disease and therefore warrant especially close monitoring.

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“This may prove to be an important step toward the prevention and early detection of lung cancer risk and away from the current herculean efforts needed to battle late-stage disease, where the majority of health expenditures and misery occur,” said Simon Spivack, M.D., M.P.H., a co-senior author of the study, professor of medicine, of epidemiology & population health, and of genetics at Einstein, and a pulmonologist at Montefiore Health System.

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High fiber, yogurt diet associated with lower lung cancer risk

A diet high in fiber and yogurt is associated with a reduced risk for lung cancer, according to a study by Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers published in JAMA Oncology according to Medical Express.

woman holding spoon trying to eat white food

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The benefits of a diet high in fiber and yogurt have already been established for cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal cancer. The new findings based on an analysis of data from studies involving 1.4 million adults in the United States, Europe and Asia suggest this diet may also protect against lung . Continue reading

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What happens after you quit smoking: A timeline

As regular readers know, I feel strongly that smoking is an unmitigated blight on our lives. We lose over 170,000 people to it every year – just in lung cancer alone – totally preventable. To be honest, I am surprised that anyone who can read would choose to be a smoker. Nonetheless, it is so. I have a Page on it – How many ways does smoking harm you?   which I recommend you check out after reading this.

I am reproducing what follows from Medical News Today because I like the way they spell out positive aspects of ceasing smoking. Jenna Fletcher wrote it.

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Cigarette smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. Despite this, some smokers find quitting daunting. They think it will take a very long time before seeing improvements in their health and well-being.

However, the timeline for seeing real benefits to quitting smoking is much faster than most people realize. Health benefits begin in as little as an hour after the last cigarette and continue to improve. Continue reading

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Heavy Smokers Should Get CT Scans

Regular readers know I am strongly opposed to smoking. You can check out my Page How bad is smoking at the top for all the reasons in detail. But, this is still a free country and you can do what you want, So, I thought it wise to pass on the words of Rob Logan, Ph.D. Director of the U.S. National library of Medicine.

Young woman smoking cigarette

“The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual computer tomography (or CT) screening for smokers between age 55-80, who currently smoke or have smoked an average of a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years. Low dose CT scans also are recommended for adults between age 55-80, who smoked an average of a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years — and quit within the past 15 years.

“Michael LeFevre M.D., the Task Force’s co-vice chair, told the Wall Street Journal (after the recommendations’ release) the recommended screening could prevent as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths annually. Dr. LeFevre told Health Day: ‘That’s a lot of people, and we feel it’s worth it, but there still will be a lot more people dying from lung cancer. That’s why the most important way to prevent lung cancer will continue to be to convince smokers to quit.'”

“The Task Force’s report notes about 160,000 Americans die from lung cancer annually and about 230,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Lung cancer is the third most common and deadliest of all cancers and impacts both men and women. The Task Force’s report explains about 37 percent of adults are current or former smokers.”

Anecdotally, my father smoked cigarettes all his life and quit at age 55. He died of lung cancer at age 76. It seems the doctor’s recommendation might have been helpful in his case.

Tony

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Fresh Bad News for Smokers

“On average people who smoke die about 10 years sooner than non-smokers. The New England Journal of Medicine.

“Smoking triples the risk for cataracts and is also a risk factor for macular degeneration and its response to treatment. Dr. Nicholas Volpe, Tarry Professor and Chairman Department of Opthalmology Feinberg School of Medicine Northwestern University

“The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2012 (latest year with statistics) about 173,200 cancer deaths will be caused by tobacco use. The overall survival rate for those with lung cancer, sadly, remains at around 15%,” so starts my Page – How bad is Smoking.

smoking

But, “nearly half a million people will die from smoking-related diseases this year. Each day, more than 3,200 youths smoke their first cigarette. New products such as e-cigarettes, with effects that aren’t yet understood, complicate public health messages. And if current trends continue unabated, 5.6 million of today’s children and teens will go on to die prematurely during adulthood because of smoking,” the Associated Press said.

The Surgeon General released a fresh report on Friday enumerating the above and more dire consequences that smokers are exposing themselves to.

“Remarkably, the report adds more entries to the official list of smoking-caused diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, the macular degeneration that can blind older adults, two additional cancers – liver and colorectal – and cleft palate birth defects.”

If you are a smoker please consider stopping. If you know a smoker help them to get off this deadly habit.

Tony

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How Does Smoking Affect You?

I wanted to have a record of this on the blog because I am always amazed at the number of seemingly intelligent people I see who are still puffing away. So, for the record, The Center For Disease Control offers the following results of smoking:

Smoking damages nearly every organ of the body. Smoking causes many diseases and reduces the health of smokers in general.

Smoking causes death.
• The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States.
• More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.
• Smoking causes an estimated 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women.
• An estimated 90% of all deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease are caused by smoking.

Look at all the good things that happen as soon as you stop smoking.

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Smoking Increases Health Risks
Compared with nonsmokers, smoking is estimated to increase the risk of—
• coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
• stroke by 2 to 4 times,
• men developing lung cancer by 23 times
• women developing lung cancer by 13 times
• dying from chronic obstructive lung diseases (such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times.
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